Getting enough sleep every night is hard. We’re all busy, and often it is much more tempting to sacrifice a few hours of sleep than to regularly stick to a strict sleep schedule. Unfortunately, your sleeping habits may have more of an effect on your skin than you might think.
This begs the question: does lack of sleep cause acne? Read on to learn about how insufficient hours and poor-quality sleep can affect acne, as well as steps you can take to ensure your skin stays clear as you sleep.
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Does Lack of Sleep Cause Acne?
There is not an abundance of data that directly proves that a lack of sleep causes acne. That being said, there is some evidence that can strongly support the idea that the negative effects of not getting enough Z’s in each night can ultimately affect your skin and cause new acne to emerge.
What the Experts Say: Sleep and Acne
“There is not much data on sleep and acne, but there are some scientific publications that show a correlation between sleep and stress,” explains Dr. Hannah Sivak, founder of Skin Actives. “Stress affects acne through the increased production of stress hormones that increase sebum production.”
Studies have shown that a lack of enough sleep and good quality sleep can influence a rise of the stress hormone cortisol. This stress hormone can cause skin inflammation and promote the production of sebum through the sebaceous glands, which can clog the pores. Dr. Sivak goes on to explain that these higher levels of sebum means that the acne bacteria essentially has more “food” to use, which in turn means more acne can pop up.
Lack of Sleep, Acne and the Immune System
When it comes to sleep and acne, you can also look at a lack of sleep causing skin issues through the lens of physical health.
“Less than 6 hours of sleep per night can definitely make your acne worse,” says Dr. Yoram Harth, Board Certified Dermatologist and Medical Director of MDacne.
He looks at the effects that inadequate sleep can have on the immune system, and how that in turn influences acne. “Insufficient sleep will cause an imbalance in your immune system, reducing its ability to fight the acne bacteria,” he explains.
Lack of Sleep and the The Skin’s Healing Process
As we sleep, our skin goes through an important healing process. At night, our skin is best able to regenerate and repair itself. This can affect the body’s ability to heal acne, as well as the prevention of the visual cues of aging in the skin. If we aren’t getting enough sleep, we are robbing our body of this process. In the evening, as our body is preparing for bed, the production of melatonin rises.
This doesn’t just make us feel sleepy. It increases the skin’s ability to repair itself during the night, helping to counteract the damage from UV exposure and other aggressors. As stated above, sleep can also help keep your cortisol levels in check. This means the skin will be less prone to inflammation, and as a result less prone to acne.
How Many Hours of Sleep You Should Get Each Night
So, the question remains: does lack of sleep cause acne? We now know that, while inadequate sleep may not directly cause acne, the other negative effects that arise can ultimately lead to more acne. With this in mind, it is important to prioritize sleep in order to take care of yourself. This doesn’t just have to do with preventing acne – although getting enough hours in each night certainly may help.
It is about supporting your stress levels, immune system, mental and physical wellness, as well as your overall ability to function at your best. In order to avoid the negative effects that come with inadequate sleep – including those that can lead to acne – it is recommended:
- Adults ages 18-60 years old get at least 7 hours of sleep each night.
- Teens ages 13-18 should aim for 8 to 10 hours of sleep within every 24 hours.
Additional Sleep and Acne Tips
In addition to getting the recommended hours of sleep in each night for your age, there are a few additional sleep-related steps you can take on a regular basis to avoid new acne from popping up.
1. Wash Your Face Every Night
It’s tempting to go to bed without washing your face, especially after a long day. However, cleansing your face is crucial for sweeping away any acne-causing dirt, bacteria, and debris. This is especially true if you are wearing makeup or sunscreen, as these products may be clogging your pores. Find a facial cleanser that works for you, and be vigilant about using it on a daily basis.
2. Change Your Pillowcases
“Sleeping on a fresh, clean pillow is also important for people with acne-prone skin,” says Dr. Harth. “Sleeping on unwashed pillowcase will spread the dirt and oil on your face, causing more acne breakouts.” Be sure to wash your pillowcases on a regular basis to prevent unnecessary breakouts. Sleeping on your back will also eliminate the contact of your skin with any bacteria or debris.
3. Avoid Alcohol Before Bed
You may notice that drinking alcohol can help you fall asleep faster. However, just because you are getting to sleep quickly doesn’t mean you are getting good quality sleep. Alcohol can disrupt your REM sleep, which is the most restorative phase of sleep. This poor-quality sleep will leave you feeling groggy in the morning, and won’t allow your body to fully replenish at night.
How does lack of sleep affect your face?
In addition to causing acne, there are a few other outcomes that can come from lack of sleep in regards to your skin and face. Research has shown that sleep-deprived individuals exhibit paler skin, more wrinkles and fine lines, swollen and red eyes, and dark circles. Additionally, the release of cortisol (the stress hormone) that comes with a lack of sleep can lead to inflammation in the skin, meaning it won’t look as radiant as it can. It can also negatively affect the collagen in the skin, which means the skin can become thinner and less firm.
Can sleeping early cure acne?
You don’t need to get to sleep super early in order to prevent new acne from forming. Aim to get to bed at a reasonable hour (around 10:00 or 11:00pm), keeping in mind that you’ll want to get at least 7 hours of sleep if you are an adult. Since your skin regenerates as you sleep, this may also help speed up the healing process when it comes to existing acne.
How does not sleeping affect your skin?
Not sleeping can visually manifest in the skin in a lot of different ways. It can lead to inflammation, which can result in redness, as well as an overproduction of sebum. This means you may have oilier, more acne-prone skin. Your skin may also appear duller, particularly since the collagen in the skin is negatively affected with a lack of sleep.
- Does lack of sleep cause acne? Not directly, but lack of sleep can lead to a lot of negative effects, which ultimately may cause acne.
- Lack of sleep can also disrupt the skin’s healing process, cause more visual signs of aging, and lead to a less radiant complexion.
- Adults should aim to get at least 7 hours of sleep each night. Teens should get around 8-10 hours of sleep every 24 hours.